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Thread: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

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    Vinoveritas's Avatar
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    Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    My wife and I went from planning a backyard landscape with maybe a water feature, to building an inground pool. Aren't torrid summers great for the PBs around the country? I had a pool growing up and my mom currently has one that is 15 years old. Both are pearl plaster with tab chlorination and cartridge filters and I figured the most that I'd deviate from that would be maybe getting a tinted plaster.

    Now I am learning about pebble finishes, tanning shelves, DE, UV, ozone and a spa differences after just a week of research! It is kinda head spinning and I really appreciate this forum so I come to you for the collective wisdom. I know that most of the choices come down to personal preference but I wanted to see if there were some things that are just smart to do in terms of quality/price and peace of mind.

    I am thinking of a geometric pool with cut limestone. We kinda have a Mission style going on in the house and the with the limestone, I am thinking a salt water chlorine generator may not be a wise, long-term decision. Some of the PBs I've met with like either ozone or a large UV solution from Spectralight located here in Texas. I have read that scientifically, home sized ozone systems are expensive and of limited use. Is this true and does it hold true for the big UV units? I like UV that it will supposedly let us limit chlorine, destroys chloramines and may even save us money on chems. I also read that UV, in addition to destroying chloramines, will also get rid of a lot of FC so that I may have to use as much chlorine as a pool without UV, even to keep it at 1ppm. Any input?

    For the interior finish, like I said at the top, I figured we'd just get a tinted plaster and that would be the most different thing about this pool compared to the one I grew up with. Now I am finding out about pebble finishes and I want to know if they are trendy because they do pose a significant advantage over plaster in terms of longevity and appearance. The one pool builder that has given us a proposal told us that a properly balanced pool can keep plaster for 15+ years. My mom's friend is now rebuilding her tinted plaster pool and probably had a service for the 10+ years she had it. If we went with pebble, I am leaning toward the smaller stones that are polished to make it the most smooth and the most durable, but is it really worth the significant upgrade?

    The most expensive option is a spa. We have a well shaded backyard which is similar to the one I grew up with which was COLD. Nice on the scorching days of August, but it made for some chilly April swimming. We have 10 year old twin boys and figure a spa that we could push up a few degrees would keep them soaking longer. The remote and number of spa jets seems to be the place where budget can get out of hand. We'd like to have room for 6-8 adults when friends come over but mostly it is going to be the four of us.

    Is there anything else that has made the difference as a pool owner? Something you wish you splurged on (I know decking but we are limited on impervious cover) or in retrospect seems like a waste?

    Thanks and I'll probably start a thread on the build as we get closer.
    16,000 IGP with Spa - Quad 80 DE - WET Midnight Sea Satin surface - Intelliflow VSP (3hp) - EasyTouch 4 - TFT100 w/ Speed Stir (best thing evah)

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    MattM's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    The options that make a significant difference will depend on many variables, including how long you plan to own the pool, where you live and what the weather is like, and how and the frequency that you intend to use the pool.

    For us, we decided that the real reason to have the pool was for family health...ensuring everyone got regular exercise. The other aspects, including recreation and family fun are great, but weren't the primary drivers. But to make the health aspect work, we needed a pool that we would be open for a significant portion of the year. We also decided putting in the pool only made sense if we were staying in the house for the indefinite future (up to 30 years).

    So, we ended up ignoring most of the fancy features and reviewing what would give us the most bang for the buck in terms of keeping the pool operating costs low.

    So, our pool shape is basic rectangular because that works the best with an automatic safety cover that will keep the pool warm and less needing of regular cleaning. All of our conversations with pool builders centered around what equipment would last the longest and cost the least to run, even if up front cost was higher. So, we have a decent sized solar heating system on our roof and put in a heat pump rather than gas heater. Purchased the automatic safety cover and genuine pebble sheen. We also completely cut out putting in a spa and/or slide, but did make sure we had the PB's add sealed rails and steps in both the shallow and deep end, an automation system, and 3" pipes and lazy curves for plumbing, a nice area for the all the pool equipment with any amenities we might want, and ensured that our design included good concrete based decking with solid distribution of drains throughout the yard.

    We also did some review of our local water properties when deciding how to fill the pool and have decided to have a 3rd party service remove calcium and other minerals that build up at regular intervals.

    We did end up agreeing to put in an SCG and a pentair intellichem unit, but neither of these items are as important as the other items and we could do without if necessary.
    24K gallon inground gunite/pebble sheen pool, 34'x16' 4-7.5ft deep, 750sq ft solar, pentair ultratemp, intelliflow vs+, ic60, intellichem w/ acid pump, quad de 100, intellibright 5g, intellitouch i5-3s with Screenlogic2, 3" primary piping - 2.5" at equip pad, auto switched deep heating and main returns, automatic safety cover w/ electronic lock and embedded recessed undertrack, sealed stamped concrete deck, dolphin deluxe 5, started up December 2011.

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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    Be sure to investigate how tinted pool surfaces impact the water temperature. You can use a fountain to cool a pool, but that can make pH harder to manage if your tap water is high TA.
    23,000 gallon in ground pool with rock waterfall and spillover spa, Aqualink control system, Polaris 380 cleaner, Purex Triton Clean&Clear Plus cartridge filter. Located in The Woodlands, Texas.

    Pool owner since Nov 2008, Trouble Free since April 2009. Happy to help when I can.

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    CUTiger78's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    I've been a pool owner for 20+ years and I've learned a few things.

    * I wish I had a hand rail to use when getting into or out of the pool at the steps. I'm not ancient, but I had a bad knee for a while (torn meniscus) and there were times when I could have used a hand rail to get comfortably out of the pool. My 80ish-year-old inlaws would use it both getting in and out.

    * If I ever build a new pool, I'm getting a rectangular one so that I can have a built-in, automatic safety cover. For me, it would be great for late season use when I'm not ready to close the pool, but I need to keep leaves out. A built-in solar cover would be good also, but I don't know if you can have both.

    * I've always had a separate, freestanding spa. For a pool/spa combo, I don't know how easy it is to separate spa use from pool use. For instance, I use my spa in the winter when I've got my pool closed.

    Don't forget, the more features you get, the more time consuming and costly maintenance will be.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Good luck!
    36K gallon 42X22 gunite/plaster kidney-shaped IG;
    1 hp Hayward Super Pump (new in 2012);
    Hayward S244T sand filter w/ Zeosand (both new in 2009);
    175K BTU LAARS Lite2 LG natural gas heater; Polaris 380;
    TF-100 test kit.

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    Vinoveritas's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    Thanks for the responses so far and please keep them coming. I know that with the swimming season basically over, most people may have left but those that remain on the site are the die-hards

    To answer some of the questions, I live in Austin, Texas and, as I told my wife after we decided to build a pool, "we not leaving this house unless something very good, or very bad, happens."

    The area I live in has fairly hard water from what I've been told all my life (limestone aquifers supply a lot of drinking water) and I'm intrigued about how you get rid of built up calcium in the water. I kept a reef tank for a number of years and I wanted calcium in the tank and it was exported through coral growth. I hope to not have any corals in pool (no matter how awesome a 15k gallon reef tank would be) so how do you get rid of the calcium besides a water change?

    Hey there Woodlands person! I get to travel to Conroe 6x a year and love the area. As far as tinted surfaces, the one PB we spoke with said we'd get maybe a degree out of it in a 6' deep pool. That seems negligible and I like the pebble finishes I've seen that are darker as opposed to the white-ish ones. Can I ask you about your aqualink? The one bid we received has a RS-4 handheld only and it is a $2,650 upgrade which seems expensive since the parts seem less than half that but installation and set up has to cost/be worth something.

    For the Tiger fan (grats on pulling out the win vs. Wake), we are probably getting a geometric pool, but doubtful that we get a rectangular one. We have 10 year old twin boys and the pool will be the main focal point of the backyard. I don't think we will be covering it ever. I see you have a separate spa. We have one PB who was somewhat negative about the built in spa and was going to give us a design with three options, no spa, built in and separate. I like the fuel savings with natural gas with a built in spa but the price difference between a "portable" and a built in is significant. If you put in a new pool, would you put in a spa too or keep them separate?

    So many options/questions/decisions! Thanks for your help and if anyone else has anything to add (especially about the ozone and UV) I'd be most appreciative.
    16,000 IGP with Spa - Quad 80 DE - WET Midnight Sea Satin surface - Intelliflow VSP (3hp) - EasyTouch 4 - TFT100 w/ Speed Stir (best thing evah)

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    Hi vinoveritas, welcome to TFP! I can supply info on a couple of your questions.
    As for managing calcium levels, some parts of the country have pool service companies that offer reverse osmosis treatments for the pool that remove calcium (and just about everything else) from the water. So far this is primarily available in parts of California and Arizona. Last time I checked there was no such service available in your area, but here at TFP we do have guidelines for managing high calcium levels in order to prevent scale formation. In order to find out if you have high calcium in your fill water, take a sample of water to the local pool store and have it tested a week or two before it is time to fill the pool.

    Ozone and/or uv treatments for private outdoor pools are unnecessary, especially in Texas where we get plenty of strong sunlight most of the year. In a properly sanitized outdoor pool there will be no need for additional equipment to burn off combined chloramines. The sun does a fine job. The amount of chlorine you need will depend on how much CYA is in the pool. For more information use the google search at the bottom left corner of this page and type "ozone systems" or "uv systems" in the search box. Keep a notebook handy and jot down any questions that may arise while reading. I'm sure you will want more info from us or think of new questions for your prospective builder.

    When choosing equipment, look for a 2 speed or variable speed 1 hp pump for best energy efficiency. Unless you are building a super large pool 1 hp should be sufficient. The type of filter you should buy depends on many factors. If you currently get a lot of organic debris (leaves, spent blossoms, blown in dust ect...) in the area where you plan to put the pool, a DE or cartridge filter may be a good choice since they will catch the smaller particles than a sand filter. Sand filters are easier to maintain. Cartridge filters waste very little water to clean. Each type of filter has its own strengths and shortcomings, and the best filter for you may be based more on personal preference than anything else. If you do decide to go with a DE or a cartridge filter, ask for a waste line that by-passes the filter. Cartridge filters do not require backwashing so most builders do not plumb in a waste line, but if you ever have a situation where you need to drain the pool or you become lax in your maintenance and develop a nasty algae bloom, a waste line is very handy! What ever type of filter you choose, buy the largest one you can reasonably afford. A larger filter will need less frequent cleaning.

    My last bit of advice is that when the pool is close to completion, buy a high quality FAS-DPD pool test kit such as the Taylor K2006 or the TF 100. You will be investing a significant sum in building your pool, so consider a high quality test kit as part of that investment. Regular testing is important, especially during pool start up. Regular testing will help you keep the water balanced, sanitary, and protect the finish of your pool.
    TFP Moderator
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    Vogue 21' round AG, Pentair 1 hp 2 speed pump, 36 sq ft DE filter, Hayward S180T 150# sand filter, Houston, Texas
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    Vinoveritas's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    I have a longer reply sitting on the laptop at the house but wanted to post a pictures of my small backyard and how shaded it is so you can get a sense of the situation and maybe offer some advice.

    This is from the back deck looking out to where the main area of the pool would be. There is not a lot of room but of greater concern is the shade. This was from this morning.


    This is looking at the trees from further back than the previous picture. You can barely see the bird feeder in this one:


    This was taken at the bird feeder looking up and toward the greenbelt.


    This one is taken from the side fence looking back to the deck but focused on the tree coverage.


    So, as you can see, I have only a little room and a lot of shade. The shade is so deep that the St. Augustine is having a hard time growing. The deep end of the pool (toward the side fence in pic 1) is really not going to get much sunlight during the day and the shallow end will get more but not what I would consider "full sun." If we don't have good sun coverage, is CC something to worry about and would possibly ozone or UV be a solution?

    For July of 2011, the average numbers from the city's water department for drinking water were :

    TA- 72
    pH - 9.7
    Total Hardness - 97 (not sure if this is useful) For January 2011 this was 105
    Total Solids - 158 (again not sure if useful) For Jan 2011 this was 152

    Any idea what all this means for a BBB pool without a SWCG?

    Thanks again!
    16,000 IGP with Spa - Quad 80 DE - WET Midnight Sea Satin surface - Intelliflow VSP (3hp) - EasyTouch 4 - TFT100 w/ Speed Stir (best thing evah)

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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    We like our spa so it's worth been worth the extra expense. I recommend a SWG as well. I bought a larger filter and heater than I could have and I'm glad I did so.

    You didn't mention maintenence in your post, but with the trees in or near your back yard you will have a lot of leaves and debris in your pool at various times. When we planned our pool there was a mature pecan tree in our neighbor's yard the base of which was about 25 feet from my pool. I got lucky and my neighbor, with some $ from me, decided to chop it down. It made my pool much easier to keep clean. My pool builder designed our pool with two skimmers to deal with the leaves even though my pool is fairly small (20 x 20). There may be some other issues to consider and you should ask your PB.

    [edit] I forgot to mention about your water. It's better than my water in Houston. My fill water has TA of 220 and CH of 150. With the drought this summer it was hard to keep my TA below 100. My CH also rose significantly because of the drought.
    9,200 gal. Gunite Luna Quartz French Grey pool with spill over spa, two fountains on tanning ledge (rarely used)
    Pentair Whisperflo 2HP, Pentair CCP Cartridge 420 Sq. Ft., Polaris 280 with booster pump
    Pentair EasyTouch 4, RayPak LoNox 266k Natural Gas heater, Aqua Rite SWCG T Cell 9, Borates, TF-100 test kit

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    CUTiger78's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinoveritas
    If you put in a new pool, would you put in a spa too or keep them separate?
    I would keep them separate, but that's based on my experience.

    Maybe someone with a pool/spa combo will pop in share some pros & cons.
    36K gallon 42X22 gunite/plaster kidney-shaped IG;
    1 hp Hayward Super Pump (new in 2012);
    Hayward S244T sand filter w/ Zeosand (both new in 2009);
    175K BTU LAARS Lite2 LG natural gas heater; Polaris 380;
    TF-100 test kit.

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    Re: Opinions on IG pool options that make the difference?

    Wow, you are gonna hate those trees after you put in the pool. If you can put in the pool without doing tremendous damage to the tree roots. I suggest consulting a top notch local nursery, bring them the photos and ask them if the tree is likely to survive. You will need to use a marker to draw in the pool outline on a photo. Bring a plot of the yard, from when you purchased the house, and sketch in the pool location. I've seen pools where they tried to keep a large tree but it died anyhow and left a big hole in the decking. You see, the tree uses the roots in the top most 8" of the soil and those roots extend even further than the canopy of the tree. Most of the roots are just below the canopy and a few feet beyond, but they really extend almost twice as far as the branches. So when you cut those roots near the trunk, you are killing off a huge area of roots, even for a smallish pool or yard. Then if you cover some of the remaining area with concrete decking you kill more roots. Be careful. Get advice from a tree person before going much further. You may decide to get rid of the tree upfront.

    That said, with no trees over the pool, we have to clean the skimmers daily in the fall. Usually only every other day but if it is windy, daily, and in the fall it is daily. If we miss a day or it is really windy, the skimmer fills up and it starts sucking air. The pool equipment is outside our bathroom and I can tell by the sound of the pump when something is not right. Air in the pump can burn it out, not good. Here in The Woodlands, as you know, we have a lot of trees. I have pines in the greenbelt just beyond my fence and while my trees are not too close to the pool, still we get plenty of pine straw and leaves.

    You will need to give serious consideration to the automatic pool cleaner if you do not have a pool cover. It will have to be tended daily to manage the leaves that will hit your pool. I have the Polaris 380 and I tinker with it rather a lot as it is several years old now, not sure, maybe 7 years or more. I cannot offer much advice on different types.

    The Aqualink came with the house when we bought it so I don't know a lot about the choices you might have. I love that I can program when everything comes on. I could even turn on the spa every Friday night if I wanted to. It takes care of freeze protection and it even runs the pond fountain. There is no hand held control for ours, it is a box mounted on the wall in the house. There is a spa side switch that lets me turn the heat up or the lights off or whatever. I never use it and so can't recall what the buttons do really. I need to keep those directions handy I guess. I know that the buttons there can do whatever you tell it. Our Aqualink is set up to turn on the waterfall and the cleaner and the main filter when I tell it. And when I want to use the spa it manages all the valves correctly with delays as required. I think it is a great thing to have, over the life of the pool it will be worth the money I suspect.

    My spa is built into the pool, with a spillover. This means the water in the spa is the same as the water in the pool until I turn the spa on and the valves change to isolate the spa from the pool. The constant spillover does affect the chemistry in the pool somewhat with my high TA water. Your water is not high TA and so won't have that. I suppose that a separate spa might have better insulation and could be kept warmer over time. But when the pool system is on the spa gets fresh water so the chlorine level is correct. I suspect that separate spas are kept covered up when not in use, I think those covers are rather ugly, however useful.

    Forget about UV, that is not an issue, even with tree coverage. You have Texas sunlight, even through the trees.

    I would reconsider the pool surfaces to allow SWG. So much easier, over time the cost is about the same I hear. You have to know that going in so that all the equipment is salt approved. I use bleach, trichlor tablets, cal-hypo, in rotation during the year as pool chemistry allows. SWG is much easier.

    Do not let them put rock coping that extends into the pool water, a cleaning nightmare.
    23,000 gallon in ground pool with rock waterfall and spillover spa, Aqualink control system, Polaris 380 cleaner, Purex Triton Clean&Clear Plus cartridge filter. Located in The Woodlands, Texas.

    Pool owner since Nov 2008, Trouble Free since April 2009. Happy to help when I can.

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